Aoun Rejects Portfolio Rotation, Warns against 'Tampering' with Christian Representation
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday announced the FPM's rejection of any rotation of ministerial portfolios in the new cabinet, saying any such attempt would be considered an attack on the movement.
“We reject the notion of holding onto any ministerial portfolio, as rotation is acceptable when the cabinet changes, but we reject any manipulation targeting the basis of productivity during the short interval of time (that precedes the presidential vote and the formation of a new cabinet.) That would be a suspicious move aimed at targeting our work (at the ministries),” said Aoun in a written statement he recited after the Change and Reform bloc's weekly meeting.
“The government is the executive authority and it is unacceptable to give up proper Christian representation in the sovereign and important portfolios,” he added.
“It is unacceptable to renounce the rights of any group in power sharing and any tampering with these norms that are based on the National Pact would be a constitutional violation and a manipulation that is more dangerous than withholding confidence from the cabinet,” Aoun warned.
He added: “We can offer a lot of sacrifices but we cannot sacrifice the people whom we represent and we cannot negate ourselves. We cannot accept new complications in the cabinet formation process, as the current period and the process contain enough complications which are only aimed at targeting and attacking us politically.”
Aoun voiced rejection any attempt to “isolate any political group,” including the FPM.
“It seems that the National Pact is being violated in some matters and we will raise all the issues that have happened since the elections until today. The biggest violation is the extension of parliament's mandate and the second violation is suspending the Constitutional Council,” he said.
“Nowadays, and in the same context, there is no credibility in the cabinet formation process,” Aoun lamented.
He pointed out that the FPM has not been “consulted regarding the names of our ministers.”
Aoun called for forming a cabinet based on a 10-10-10 formula, “which was followed in the past and would secure the best representation for us and for others.”
“We believe that the new cabinet can pave the ground for a new phase of dialogue for the sake of stability. It would also prepare for holding the presidential vote on time with the aim of electing a president who can unite the Lebanese around the state principle,” he said.
On Monday, caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil held talks with President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to discuss the cabinet formation process.
Sources described the meetings as “negative” as Bassil insisted during talks with Salam on keeping the Telecommunications and Energy ministries with the FPM, without offering any alternatives.
However, Salam, who was appointed in April, held onto the concept of “fair, balanced and comprehensive rotation of portfolios.”
The cabinet formation process was put on the front burner after Speaker Nabih Berri proposed a revised 8-8-8 government formula and Suleiman said he would form a so-called neutral cabinet if the political rivals don't agree on an all-embracing government within days.
Amid the Lebanese Forces' rejection of Hizbullah's participation in the cabinet, the March 14 camp has reportedly accepted the 8-8-8 formula in principle, but it is awaiting answers pertaining to the ministerial policy statement and the rotation of portfolios among political parties.
The 8-8-8 formula divides ministers equally between the centrists and the March 14 and 8 alliances.